Elevation: 5, 520- 5,921 ft
Elevation Gain: 401 ft
Rabbit Mountain is a great shoulder season hike. It has incredible views of the continental divide, provides a glimpse into prehistoric Colorado history, and is generally free of snow. I should clarify here. By prehistoric, I mean dinosaur tromping historic. Rabbit Mountain is an uplift of sedimentary rock that was formed when much of the Great Plains consisted of an inland sea. The western edge of the trail leads to several overlooks that sit atop exposed portions of these rocks. On a sunny spring day, they would make an excellent al fresco dining spot.
The trail begins at a nice pavilion and quickly ascends 300 or so feet to a broad saddle. At one half of a mile, a junction allows the hiker to choose the short but scenic Little Thompson Overlook Trail (2 miles RT) or the longer Eagle Wind Trail (3 miles RT). Combining these two trails can be very nice. The first trail provides lovely views of the Little Thompson while the second trail wanders over grassy slopes with views of the Continental Divide.
On this trip, we chose the Eagle Wind Trail. This trail is very rocky and can be a mud bath after a good rain or snow. It only gains 100 ft or so over its length. Most of the views exist on the right fork of the loop so you can hit them at the beginning or end of your hike. The trail is multi-use, so be emotionally prepared for lots of dogs (on leash), mountain bikers, and horses. We saw all of the above on this trip.
There are not a lot of trees on the trail but plenty of shrubbery. In the warmer months, songbirds seem to gather here in droves. Bring a pair of binoculars and a picnic dinner and listen to the Meadow Larks sing their melodic song of the plains.
True Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus). Grows in dry and sunny areas up to 8,500 ft. The curly reproductive mechanism enables the plant to spread its seed up to 450 ft away. On this trip the hillside was filled with them. They glittered in the sun.